Infancy: The Idol

This story is part of the Infancy Gospels unit. Story source: The Lost Books of the Bible, edited by Rutherford H. Platt, Jr. (1926): The First Gospel of the Infancy of Jesus Christ.

NOW Herod, perceiving that the wise men did delay, and not return to him, called together the priests and wise men and said, "Tell me in what place the Christ should be born?"

And when they replied, "In Bethlehem, a city of Judaea," he began to contrive in his own mind the death of the Lord Jesus Christ.

But an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in his sleep, and said, "Arise, take the child and his mother, and go into Egypt as soon as the cock crows."

So he arose, and went. And as he was considering with himself about his journey, the morning came upon him.

In the length of the journey the girts of the saddle broke.

And now he drew near to a great city, in which there was an idol, to which the other idols and gods of Egypt brought their offerings and vows. And there was by this idol a priest ministering to it, who, as often as Satan spoke out of that idol, related the things he said to the inhabitants of Egypt, and those countries.

This priest had a son three years old who was possessed with a great multitude of devils who uttered many strange things, and when the devils seized him, he walked about naked with his clothes torn, throwing stones at those whom he saw.

Near to that idol was the inn of the city, into which when Joseph and St. Mary were come and had turned into that inn, all the inhabitants of the city were astonished. And all the magistrates and priests of the idols assembled before that idol, and made inquiry there, saying, "What means all this consternation, and dread, which has fallen upon all our country?"

The idol answered them, "The unknown God is come hither, who is truly God; nor is there any one besides him, who is worthy of divine worship; for he is truly the Son of God. At the fame of him this country trembled, and at his coming it is under the present commotion and consternation; and we ourselves are affrighted by the greatness of his power."

And at the same instant this idol fell down, and at his fall all the inhabitants of Egypt, besides others, ran together.

But the son of the priest, when his usual disorder came upon him, going into the inn, found there Joseph and St. Mary, whom all the rest had left behind and forsook. And when the Lady St. Mary had washed the swaddling clothes of the Lord Christ and hanged them out to dry upon a post, the boy possessed with the devil took down one of them and put it upon his head. And presently the devils began to come out of his mouth and fly away in the shape of crows and serpents.

From that time the boy was healed by the power of the Lord Christ, and he began to sing praises, and give thanks to the Lord who had healed him.

When his father saw him restored to his former state of health, he said, "My son, what has happened to thee, and by what means wert thou cured?"

The son answered, "When the devils seized me, I went into the inn, and there found a very handsome woman with a boy, whose swaddling clothes she had just before washed and hanged out upon a post. One of these I took and put it upon my head, and immediately the devils left me and fled away."

At this the father exceedingly rejoiced and said, "My son, perhaps this boy is the son of the living God, who made the heavens and the earth. For as soon as he came amongst us, the idol was broken, and all the gods fell down, and were destroyed by a greater power."

Then was fulfilled the prophecy which saith, "Out of Egypt I have called my son."

(700 words)

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